New Delhi: Senior Baloch nationalist leader Dr Allah Nazar, in an exclusive interaction with The Sunday Guardian, said that for the last two years, Pakistan was operating multiple concentration camps in the Baluchistan region.

According to Dr Nazar, who was announced dead by the Pakistan army in 2015, the presence of these concentration camps, where the common Baloch, including women, children and the aged, are kept in detention and tortured, had come to light only recently.

Dr Nazar said that as per information gathered by him, there were at least two such camps in Nushki district in Western Baluchistan, one in Dera Bugti in Eastern Baluchistan and one in Awaran in South Baluchistan, which was run with the assistance of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba cadre. The last mentioned camp also served as a training camp for the LeT cadre.

Dr Nazar told The Sunday Guardian over phone from an undisclosed location: “These camps are out of bounds for the locals. No one is allowed to go near them. It is impossible to gather photographic evidence of the facilities. However, in the last few days, we have been able to meet some of the people across Baluchistan, mostly women, who were taken to one of these camps, tortured and then set free. Many of the male members who have been taken to these camps have disappeared. Our sources who are present in these areas say that they frequently hear cries of people who are being tortured in these camps. I request the United Nations and other countries, including India, to arrange for a fact-finding mission in these areas so that the world can know how the Pakistan army and the ISI are carrying out genocide in this region.”

According to him, at this point in time, it was not possible to count the number of detainees in these camps, but the number could be in “1000s”. “A couple of my relatives, too, are in these camps. Those who were set free have told us that electric shocks are given to those who are taken captive. The intention behind operating these camps is to stop common people, who are seeking a free Baluchistan, from voicing their demands or help the organisations that are fighting for it,” Dr Nazar said.

“There is a total media blackout in the region. The handful of media outlets that are functioning there have been threatened by the army not to carry any news related to the presence of these concentration camps and the missing people,” he claimed.

Dr Nazar’s claim assumes credibility when the observations made by Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières or RSF), are taken into consideration. In November 2017, RSF had said that at the start of the year, Pakistani intelligence agents started contacting Baloch journalists and ordered them to stop covering any statements by the province’s armed separatist groups.

Commenting on ISI’s and Pakistan’s assertion that Baloch nationalists were being helped by India’s external spy agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Dr Nazar said that if that was the case, Baluchistan would have been free by now. “We all know what RAW did when it decided to free Bangladesh from the clutches of Pakistan. If RAW was helping us, we would have already been free by now. The ISI, in order to portray the freedom movement in Baluchistan as India’s handiwork, also kidnapped Kulbhushan Jadhav from Iran with the help of Jaish-ul-Adl, which has a big camp in the Turbat region, and announced that he was a RAW operative. Sometimes, the Pakistan army says that Afghanistan’s spy agency is helping us; sometimes it says the CIA is helping us. There is no truth in it.”

“Pakistan has turned into a rogue nation. After the coming of Imran Khan, army’s presence has increased in Baluchistan. They have formed a new corp for Baluchistan and the maximum number of colleges, schools and hospitals have been converted into army compounds. All these can be easily ascertained by an international fact finding mission. Even their spokesperson last week, commenting on the disappearance of the Baloch, said that ‘everything is fair in love and war’. For long now, we have been expecting political, moral and diplomatic support from countries around the world, including India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should work towards accepting Baluchistan as an independent country,” he said.